All About Theft, Robbery And Dacoity


Near about 5.2 million cognizable crimes were reported in the nation in the year 2019. These cognizable crimes include those covered under the Indian Penal Code along with Special and Local Laws (SLL). In terms of absolute numbers, Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of cases in both categories. But Assam reported the highest rate of crimes against women (per lakh population), while Rajasthan had the highest rate of crimes against Scheduled Castes. And Every hour we see Dacoity, robbery, or theft is being executed in our nation and this rate is growing uninterruptedly.


Our Indian Penal Code, 1860 in section 378 has defined “Theft” as whoever, intending to take dishonestly any movable property out of the possession of any person without that person’s consent, moves that property in order to such taking, is said to commit theft.

Our Hon’ble Kerala High court in P.T. Ranjan Babu v. Anitha Chandra Babu has laid down the essentials of theft are:

  • First and foremost, there has to be a dishonest intention to take the property away or from the owner’s possession.
  • The property should not be attached to the earth meaning It should be movable property.
  • The property must be taken out of the possession of the owner or anyone who has rightful possession.
  • The property must be taken away without the consent of the owner.
  • There should be physical movement of the property.

Section 379 of The Indian Penal Code, 1860 laid down the punishment for theft, It says that a person who commits theft shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 3 years or with a fine or with both.


Extortion is defined under section 383 of IPC which states that Whoever intentionally puts any person in fear of any injury to that person, or to any other, and thereby dishonestly induces the person so put in fear to deliver to any person any property, or valuable security or anything signed or sealed which may be converted into a valuable security, commits “extortion”.

And section 384 provides Punishment for extortion, whoever commits extortion shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.


According to Section 390, Robbery is defined as, In all robbery, there is either theft or extortion.

When theft is robbery. —Theft is “robbery” if, in order to the committing of the theft, or in committing the theft, or in carrying away or attempting to carry away property obtained by the theft, the offender, for that end voluntarily causes or attempts to cause to any person death or hurt or wrongful restraint, or fear of instant death or of instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint.

When extortion is robbery.—Extortion is “robbery” if the offender, at the time of committing the extortion, is in the presence of the person put in fear, and commits the extortion by putting that person in fear of instant death, of instant hurt, or of instant wrongful restraint to that person or to some other person, and, by so putting in fear, induces the person so put in fear then and there to deliver up the thing extorted.

Our Hon’ble Supreme Court in Venu v. State of Karnataka, (2008) 3 SCC 94 defines The essential ingredients are as follows:

  1. Accused committed theft.
  2. Accused voluntarily caused or attempted to cause

(i) death, hurt or wrongful restraint;

(ii) fear of instant death, hurt or wrongful restraint.

  1. He did either act for the end

(i) to commit theft;

(ii) while committing theft;

(iii) in carrying away or in the attempt to carry away property obtained by theft.

Section 392 provides for Punishment for robbery, whoever commits robbery shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine; and, if the robbery is committed on the highway between sunset and sunrise, the imprisonment may be extended to fourteen years.


According to Section 391, Dacoity is defined as when five or more persons conjointly commit or attempt to commit a robbery, or where the whole number of persons conjointly committing or attempting to commit a robbery, and persons present and aiding such commission or attempt, amount to five or more, every person so committing, attempting or aiding, is said to commit “dacoity”. Delhi High Court in Mohan Singh v. State 1987 SCC OnLine Del 126 said that the essential ingredients of the offense under this section is that five or more persons must conjointly act, whether directly or indirectly as aiders. Unless this requirement is proved no offense can be said to have been established against anybody.

Moreover, Calcutta high court in Abdul Rashid v. the State of W.B ,2018 SCC OnLine Cal 6326 that No robbery if the alleged collection of money by victim not proved; accused given benefit of doubt on no direct evidence

Section 395 provides for the Punishment for dacoity, whoever commits dacoity shall be punished with [imprisonment for life], or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. Whereas section 396 provides punishment for Dacoity with murder, if any one of five or more persons, who are conjointly committing dacoity, commits murder in so committing dacoity, every one of those persons shall be punished with death, or [imprisonment for life], or rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

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